I have been working to develop a model that can be used to measure the effectiveness of online homework management systems. I started using MyAccountingLab by Pearson a few years ago. I love the features of the homework management system and am curious about how students use it and how effective it is in teaching accounting. Most students like it, some love it, while others don’t take advantage of it at all. This prompted my questioning mind to ponder “Why do the students who most need the homework manager use it the least?”
My research on the topic lead me to the Unified Acceptance and Use of Technology (UTAUT) model, which basically suggests that people who perceive that a new technology is useful (will help them do their job better), is easy to use, has support for users, and is accepted within their social circles will use it. This model has been tested extensively; research suggests it is a valid model. This model can be modified slightly to apply it to the classroom.
Additionally, I looked at Self-Efficacy, which is a person’s perception of his/her ability on a given task. A student with high self-efficacy for accounting, for example, has confidence in his/her ability to learn accounting. This is an important factor in the motivation to do the homework in a class. If a student believes he/she can master the content, he/she will be more motivated to attempt the homework. Additionally, because the homework manager might be a new technology to students, the student’s computer self-efficacy (perception of his/her ability to learn new technology) is also an important factor in his/her motivation to use the online homework manager.
I also researched the Need for Cognition theory. Need for Cognition (NFC) is one’s intrinsic motivation to learn and think. If a student is intrinsically motivated to learn new things (has a high NFC), he/she is more likely to engage in classroom activities such as homework. Additionally, I found research that suggests that if a student has low NFC, he/she will take the path of least resistence to completing the work in the class. Other researchers suggest that a student with a low NFC who perceives the online homework manager will make the homework easier, he/she will be more motivated to use it. I am suggesting, based on my research, that such students, if given the option, will elect to work only the easy problems in the OHM.
My model adds to the previous studies in that it also includes the opportunity to measure the effectiveness of the OHM in student performance in the class. Additionally, it could be used to measure the effects of performance on self-efficacy. For example, if students are asked to assess their performance on the first test and then asked again to rate their ability to learn accounting and succeed in the class, this new measure of self-efficacy could be used to then measure the student’s motivation to continue using the OHM. It could also be used to identify at-risk students in the class.
If you would like to see the model, please comment on this post with your email address and I will be happy to send it to you. While I am using the model to measure the effect of the OHM on performance in accounting courses, this model could also be used in other courses. It might be interesting to conduct a study of students in multiple types of courses to see if students use OHM differently in different types of courses.